This week of the end of August and beginning of September 2015 marks the 71st anniversary of the liberation of Belgium by British forces, culminating in the liberation of Brussels on September 3.

It had been a difficult spring and summer in Occupied Brussels. German soldiers had been increasingly jumpy and suspicious, especially after the Normandy Landings in early June. Even before then, German police had been rounding men up off the streets of the capital to send to the factories and mines of the Third Reich as forced labor. In fact, Dutch-Paris lost two of its best couriers that way, one in March and one in June. They were both arrested on the street, essentially for being men in their early twenties; imprisoned without much formality; loaded onto trains with thousands of other unfortunates, and put to work until the end of the war in extremely difficult circumstances.

By July Dutch-Paris had adjusted to the randomly dangerous situation on the streets of Brussels. The young men stayed inside. Their wives or their female colleagues squeezed into the infrequent and crowded trams, walked, or rode their ladies bicycles to deliver false ration cards and money to the hundreds of Jewish families the line was hiding in and around the city.

Yet as much as they hoped for liberation, civilians also feared it. They did not know what the Germans would do when they retreated. Would they burn the city? Massacre the people? Put up a last stand that would reduce the city to rubble and the people to starving wretches as had happened in Warsaw?

The German authorities did shoot some of their political prisoners in the final hours of their occupation. And they did load one last train of prisoners to be sent to the concentration camps (fortunately rescued by the resistance). As they did throughout Europe, they also tried to burn the documents that demonstrated their crimes. Overall, Belgium made it through its liberation with relatively little calamity to overshadow the rejoicing. When those members of Dutch-Paris who were in the city that September gathered to celebrate, they voted unanimously to turn the care of the Dutch fugitives whom they had been hiding for years over to the newly reestablished Dutch embassy.

You can find a British newsreel of the liberation of Belgium from 1944 on the official website of the city of Brussels at